Secret Wars #10

Background

The omnipotent Beyonder gathers Earth's greatest heroes and villains and dumps them on a planet of his own creation, commanding them to do battle. The winning side gets all of their hearts' desires. He can do this, because he's the Beyonder. Doctor Doom took control of the villain team, and Captain America led the heroes. The war seemingly ended when the heroes defeated and imprisoned most of the villains. The fight wasn't quite over, however, as Galactus of the villains side had begun to eat the planet! The heroes believed that they had successfully warded Galactus off, only to find that he planned to devour his gigantic space ship, and then have the rest of them for desert.

The score is Heroes: 6, and Villains: 7, with the fate of just about everyone lying in the hands of... Doctor Doom?

Story Details

The opening splash page shows the heroes standing on Battleworld in awe as a spectacle of light and energy erupts in the sky; Galactus transforming his planet sized space ship into an energy he can feed on and preparing to feast. The exposition is pretty heavy handed, as The Thing re-iterates exactly what Reed Richards said mere seconds earlier for the reader who's been out of the loop. The transformation becomes so intense that the light emanating from it allows us to see the bones inside of the heroes bodies. Just as the ship is completely energized, and Galactus gets ready to munch, some unseen force yanks it all away from him. Who could commit such a powerful act? Maybe as importantly, who would? The heroes are dazzled as the energy flows across the sky towards Doombase, the conquered fortress in which the heroes left Doctor Doom and company imprisoned. The Human Torch can't believe that Doom's behind this, as he was certainly in no shape to scheme when last they saw him. Still, others assume that no one else is that crazy or that smart, and Captain America sends Captain Marvel to travel in her light form and investigate the scene.

At Doombase, Marvel finds that Doctor Doom is lying beneath a machine of his own creation that is drawing the power from Galactus' ship to him. She allows Professor Xavier to mentally link her and Reed Richard's minds so that the scene can be studied firsthand by the scientist. If the heroes thought they were in for it before, then they'd better brace themselves: Doom has absorbed the kind of power he's only ever dreamed of, second only to the Beyonder's. His slightest whims, his stray thoughts, bend and shape the world around him (which we can see as the steel walls become images of his mask, bending and twisting to look fearsome. I always did say he had some kind of superiority complex, and here's proof.) But Doom is wary; he realizes he's got to keep a lid on things in order to keep his wild imagination and reality separate. Still, he's pretty psyched; his senses have expanded to the point where he does not only feel everything around him, he IS everything around him. He can feel every atom moving, right down to the minute details of each electron. He can read the deepest, darkest secrets of the individuals in the building with him, learning more than perhaps they themselves knew of their psyches. I'm giving you the short version-- his version goes something like "My senses have expanded! Of course! Omniscience is of necessity a corollary of omnipotence! I can feel every atom, their quivering movements, the dance of infinity!" So now that you know the brilliant monologue you're missing by not having read Doom's two page summary of his abilities, I'll continue.

Unfortunately for the good guys, a handy spy detector comes with being Galactus' mini me, and Doom detects Captain Marvel. Her mental link to the heroes blinks out, and the heroes worry that Marvel's in danger. They try to hurry to Doombase, but both of the ships that the X-Men and Avengers have been using are crushed by rubble left in the battle with Galactus. Thankfully, Magneto uses his magnificent metal moving abilities to lift the ship up and fly the heroes over himself. Tensions are high on the Magneto Mobile (they missed a marketing ploy there), and arguments break out between the X-Men and Captain America. Magneto takes a verbal pat on the back from Captain America as an insult, and the whole thing devolves into name calling. Cap admits that he doesn't feel all that comfortable with Magneto hanging around, but that he is perfectly fine with the rest of the mutants. Wolverine snaps back that Cap has purposefully and persistently ignored the persecution of mutants, even in their darkest hours, and that he is only championing his own people and forgetting others! Fighting is about to break out, but the X-Men hold Wolverine back.

Doom ponders what to do. On a view screen he's created using his new powers, he looks at the Beyonder's portal. The Beyonder has left it open, presumably to get a better look at what he thinks must be critical moments. Doom now has the power to smite all of his puny foes-- but do his hero enemies really matter anymore? They are at this point so puny compared to him that Doom only has one real adversary before becoming the most powerful. That enemy is the Beyonder himself! Doom's insane lab rat, Klaw, warns Doom in his typical nursery rhyme style that Doom would have to be pretty insane himself to even think about trying this. Doom's already made up his mind, though-- unable to accept being 'second best', he will take a secret device he's created and try to steal the Beyonder's power! By the time the heroes arrive, Doom is long gone. He left Captain Marvel trapped in her light form, which is why they lost their connection with her. Reed Richards finds Klaw, and is immediately able to assume what machine Doom created, and how. (Which, to be honest, is not an easy leap to make. The last time I found a disembodied head in my arch nemesis' hideout, I had no idea what the heck it was doing there.) Suddenly, an earthquake! Klaw informs the group of Doc Doom's plan, and Cap says that Doom must be insane.

Doom blazes towards the Beyonder. At this point in the series, we really get an idea of how massively powerful the Beyonder is. He is depicted as the silhouette of a person, standing in the center of a series of energy ripples. Doom is by comparison incredibly small. This doesn't seem to deter Doom, however; when told that he must not approach the Beyonder, Doom tells the Beyonder to approach him-- on his knee's, no less. Back in Doombase, the entire place is being shaken violently. Things begin crumbling, and debris pelts the heroes. Reed is astounded, and what little machinery is left informs him of the cosmic scale battle going on inside the Beyonder's portal. Reed thinks ahead, locating Galactus in case they need a hand fighting the souped up Doom. Cap commands Spidey and Thing to quickly retrieve She-Hulk, as they may need every hand on deck to survive a potential collapse. Another shockwave from Doom vs. Beyonder hits, and Spidey catches She Hulk before the Thing can drop her. Reed is pinned by debris, and barely able to move. Spidey assures that group that She Hulk is fine for now, and quips to the Hulk (who is operating the monitors) "So, what's on TV?". 'Worldwide destruction' is the response, and it's on every channel. Colossus, who has a major crush on an alien named Zsaji, see's her injured in the alien village they used as base. Colossus believes that Zsaji only has eyes for the Human Torch, so he goes to tell Johnny. The Torch, concerned with Reed's health, dismisses Zsaji as a 'chick'. Colossus is enraged at the disrespect, but before he can react, BOOM! Another shockwave hits. We zoom out, and begin to see more of the devastation. The various Doombase monuments are beginning to fall back on each other. The sun itself is having its flames blown away as if being pushed by a giant fan.

"And in the realm of the Beyonder", Doom persists. Doom needs to get ever-so- close to the Beyonder in order to steal his power. He's beginning to feel his inferiority, however. No matter how much he tries, he is pushed back by forces beyond his own power. He declares that it is hopeless, when he is finally overcome by pain. Is this the end of Doom? "No... NO!" Pain is for lesser beings! Fearing death is for the weak! Doom, though being torn apart by the sheer power berating him, denies death! And then, silence falls on Battleworld. Spider-Man and Xavier sense Doom as he approaches them in hologram form. Doom's ghost informs them that he has transcended mortality, and now champions all of them as he battles the Beyonder. He gives a rousing speech about how it is the Beyonder who is their enemy, having brought them all here like mere toys. For all of them, Doom now battles the Beyonder! Doom paints the picture a little differently than it is, saying that it is he who is near defeating a terrified Beyonder. Doom offers out his hand-- any who grab it will lend Doom their power to finish the fight. He pulls a Beyonder, offering them their wildest dreams once the battle is one. Magneto can't resist-- he runs to Doom, ready to help. But Magneto's not that sure. He hesitates, just for a second, which is long enough for Hawkeye and Iron Man to take Magneto down. Doom runs out of power and fades away.

No one else quite believed Doom had noble intentions, and they inform Magneto as they try to apprehend him. Magneto repels them angrily. This is cause enough for Hawkeye to point out to the X-Men that it is their man who just tried to help a villain with the power to kill them all. Hawkeye asks if they need to see Magneto murder somebody before they'll be satisfied that he's a monster. In an unpredictable move, Cap stands up for Magneto. He says that they were all tempted by Doom's offer, and besides, Magneto did NOT lend Doom his power, so he did nothing wrong. On top of that, none of them are certain what is happening in the Beyonder's fight with Doom-- indeed, they may regret not helping him.

The way things are looking for Doom, I wouldn't put money on Cap's statement. Doom's last trick failed, and he is now defenseless against the Beyonder's onslaught. Doom cannot hold out, and the fight is over. Slowly, the Beyonder approaches an unconscious Doom. The Beyonder collects Doom's ravaged body, and begins peeling apart everything. He examines Doom's long past and history. He looks at the path Doom took to become what he is now. All of this is a lot of confusion to the Beyonder, so he decides to try and examine Doom by literally peeling apart half of his body. Doom awakens during this agonizing process, in unbearable pain and almost ready to accept that his time has come. "But he is Doom!" we are reminded, and though his body is weary beyond belief, he reaches forward for his chest plate. For a second, it is too far away, but with one dying effort Doom reaches it and activates his device.

One final shockwave smashes Doombase, and the whole thing starts to collapse. The heroes are ordered to flee, while Cap and Magneto race to free the villains. The captive villains are screaming, but Cap can't seem to open the doors to save them. Wolverine to the rescue, who wouldn't let men die in cages no matter what they'd done. Wolvie was fairly surprised to find Cap helping them, to which he replies that 'every man has rights!'. Cap orders the villains to flee, and though he is uncertain that they will survive at all, he knows it is safer outside. Captain America and Wolverine dodge the rocks on their way out, and escape the base just as it crumbles to the ground. Wolverine is rather shocked, and lets Captain America know he has a new respect for him after what he did. As all the heroes regroup, the shaking stops. They are all blinded by a light that gets larger and larger as it approaches them. Captain America is the only one not too shocked to say anything, and he orders all of them to get ready. Something forms in the light, and a gigantic Doctor Doom appears. "The Beyonder is dead!" he cries "The supreme being in the Universe is now... DOOM!" Or something like that. He's always going on about himself, that guy. Cap rallies the troops, and gets ready for the fight of their lives, when Doom shrinks down to human size. He lets everyone know that everything is fine. The Beyonder no longer exists, and Doom has been reborn. Therefore, the war is over!

General Comments

Issue 10 has definitely been the best issue to date. Before this issue, the series had certainly been a lot of fun. It was a good super-hero/sci fi yarn with tons of action and lots of twist. But I wouldn't have classified it as really good-- the way movies like the Usual Suspects or Casablanca are over the average summer blockbuster. This issue gave us insight into Doom's character, and elaborated upon the X-Men's distrust of humans and Cap's nobility. The writing, especially for the Doom bits, is terrific, and the segments where the Beyonder files through Doom's past is short but terrific. The confrontation between Doom and the Beyonder is epic to say the least.

There's the art, to, which was instrumental in making sure you knew just how BIG everything that's happening is. The art is excellent (and again, the Doom segments outshine the rest of the issue), but it looks a little similar to other cosmic things that have happened throughout the series. Our only look at the Beyonder was superb, and Doom being beaten down by the Beyonder was also pretty stunning. Beyond that, though, it was a lot of big lights, and we've seen it all before.

Spidey doesn't have a starring role in this issue, but since Doom, Cap and Wolverine are the main characters, his presence isn't especially missed. He's in the issue, and says more than he usually does when forced to play as an extra.

Overall Rating

Doom's segments were written especially well, and definitely outshine the rest of the issue and perhaps even the rest of the series. Cap and Olive's chemistry is excellent to, and the Beyonder's battle is pretty magnificent. All in all, this is without a doubt the best issue of the series so far.

Footnote

Doom may say the war is over, but don't you believe a word of it! It's Heroes: 6, and Villains: 8 (for Doom's victory), but the fight aint over!